Your Kids Do not Need Electronic Learning Toys

We've all seen the advertisements for toys, videos, even teaching programs for babies promoting to give your child an academic edge. Maybe we've been moved to purchase those toys that teach colors, counting, and ABC's in English and Spanish. Maybe we've been consumed with guilt because we did not give our children these toys, and we'll always wonder if we are the reason they might turn out to be something other than rocket scientists and neurosurgeons.

Is there anything wrong with these toys? No, nothing at all. They are often cheerful, colorful, and include a catchy tune your toddler or preschooler will enjoy. And they do, in fact, give kids early exposure to those basic academic skills. The lights and sounds are delightful rewards for your little one who is exploring the buttons, dials, and sliding levers. All that exploring improves their eye hand coordination and hand strength, aka "fine motor skills."

So what's the problem? Well, frankly, the problem is parents expect the fancy "teaching toys" to live up to the hype, and give something back for all the dollars paid to get this toy or gadget. After all, do not the toy companies know what they are doing? Does not the app teach a very obvious skill, like matching? It sets parents' mind at ease, and they may feel the kids are getting a superior education. Some may feel the toys are better teachers than moms and dads. Some may feel that adding extra "teaching time" with the child would be unnecessary. This is a very dangerous way of thinking.

We have to ask ourselves to think – how do kids learn? Toddlers and preschoolers are not ready for lectures and power point presentations any more than they are ready for these kinds of "lessons" the so called learning toys are trying to provide. This may seem like comparing apples to oranges – lectures are obviously for teen and up, but those learning toys are fun and kid friendly, right? Wrong. How could they be likened to a lecture? Because of one key ingredient that is missing in both instances, the very thing that makes it inappropriate for a child – it is not attached to a meaningful personal experience or social interaction.

Lectures are one sided. A speaker presents information, the listener soaks it in. Sometimes the audience is invited to participate somehow, but it is usually limited. The learning toys are only slightly better. They make their noises, and some of them try to get the child to press a button to respond. The child is cheered for or asked to try again depending on how they respond. Does this count as a meaningful personal experience or social interaction? No, not at all. The child simply listening to a computer. They are not holding and working with real objects. No one they care about is sitting with them to provide the encouragement or praise. Instead they hear a computer voice that is empty and repetitive. Sometimes the machine responds inaccurately, like when the child sets on the toy and the toy cheers for the child who incidentally sat on the button that was the correct the response. Like a lecture, these toys are impersonal, use representation instead of real objects, and may even give inaccurate feedback.

Do you still think those learning toys are superior?

Let's take a look at naturally occurring learning now. You can call it the unplugged version. Junior is in the sandbox with Grandma sitting nearby. His fingers are covered in sand, providing delightful sensory input. (If you are not familiar with "sensory input" just think of all the stuff kids like to touch because it is so varied – sand, paint, jell-o, beans, rice, water). Whenever you add sensory input, you are activating more parts of the brain, which aids in memory and learning in general. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the light breeze is blowing, all the more sensory input that makes outside so much fun for kids. Junior is busy pouring and scooping sand. He plays pretend with a dump truck and uses it to transport sand to the "construction site." Grandma and Junior chat while he plays, and she gives him words to learn like empty, full, big, little, wet, dry. Junior is in charge of the play scenario. He fills up that dump truck himself. He shows how and when and where to dump it. Grandma smiles and encourages him. She challenges to make "a great big pile" of sand and applauds when he does. Junior beams with pride.

What just happened out there in the sandbox? Meaning happened. That sand was in Junior's little hands, not pixels on a screen. He scooped by using his little hands and muscles, not with a stylus tapping on a screen. He learned about physics out there, as he learned how hard to push the truck to make it go through the sand, how much pressure he needed to lift up the dump truck, what happened to the sand when the bucket was already full, how far Water splashes when he dumped it all at once. He was encouraged to keep going when the bucket was not full yet and Grandma helped him understand that full meal up to the top. He accomplished an actual physical task that he could see, touch, and be proud of. He got lost in the joy of make-believe play, which is critical for child development. Grandma's praise was genuine and accurate, and he loves that lady to pieces so he did not give up until he got it right.

So now we have seen how a real task, like sandbox digging or block tower building, with real people, is obviously better than tasks on a computer screen. But what about the ABC's, you ask? What about the counting in English and in Spanish? Times have changed drastically, and the pressure is really on once kids get to kindergarten. You want your future neurosurgeon to be ready!

OK, here's the truth. You can teach a toddler letters. You can teach shapes as complicated as "cylinder" to a two year old and she will be able to name it when she sees it a few weeks later. You will beam with pride. She can learn to count to ten, too. The question here is, should you?

It comes back to meaning. A child can count to ten, but does she understand what the numbers mean? Does she know that 8 is twice as many as 4? That 4 is one less than 5? That there are five cookies on the plate but when she eats one, that there are now four cookies? And what earthly purpose does a toddler have for adding the word "cylinder" to her vocabulary? She can learn letters, but she will not learn to read any faster. And without regular re-teaching, your child will quickly forget these things – for the simple fact that they do not hold any meaning for her. Our memories work by sorting and associating concepts with familiar things or in a way that makes sense. And all that academic mumbo-jumbo you gave her does not have a "storage drawer" inside that developing little mind. She has not got any place to store it that makes sense, so it fades quickly. So if it is not going to stick, why waste her time with it? Why not go outside and play in the sandbox? We know the lessons learned out there are going to last.

As your child approaches kindergarten, you will want to ensure he is "ready." Today's standards mean he should know a great many things, including letters and how to hold a crayon, his full name, and how to hop and skip. But starting to teach academies in baby and toddler years is not necessary. In fact, it may rob children of the time they could have spent filling and dumping a bucket of sand.

Still not convinced? Consider the child's growing mind. At one year of age, your child still thought he was an extension of you, and that he could control you. He fought, you fed him. He was bored, you played with him. You left him, he hinded until you returned. He tantrums because he can not control you any more. And he is mystified! He can not sort it out. Now fast forward to age 2. He's still tantrumming regularly. He cries because his meatballs are "all gone" even though you look in his bowl and see meatballs still there. Was that even the issue? Nobody knows! Now I ask you, is he ready to learn the complicated sound / symbol relationship of letters and begin to read? Is he ready to count in Spanish? Probably not. Research suggests kids are not ready to recognize and remember letters until … ready for this? … age five . That is shocking considering today's grueling pace. There is also some evidence that early exposure to letters and learning to read does not matter at all. A child can learn to read, and learn in a matter of months, if you wait until the child is developmentally ready to do so. That's around age seven. Of course, in America we do not wait until a child is seven to get started, the point of this is remind us that child development happens in a predictable, linear fashion. It can not be rushed. Development happens on child's schedule, not due to parental diligence with flashcards and learning videos. However, your child still has loads of things to learn. He is ready to play with you, listen and learn from a real person who loves and cares for him. He wants to please you, and wants to interact with you.

You do not have to "try" to teach a young child. Simply interact with him, talk with him, and ask him questions. Let him try things on his own and help him be successful. Learning happens in play, not on a screen or with a computerized toy. You can play pretend, build, paint, dig, hop and run, and even sort and categorize familiar objects like food in a toy kitchen. You can bake cakes and wash the bowls afterward. You can play catch and make up a simple game. You are all your child needs. Computerized toys can never replace the invaluable learning that happens when you simply play with your child. Choose toys that allow for problem solving, building, pretend play, or dress-up outfits. Do not forget about things like blocks, balls, and books. These classics never fail to entertain and to teach, too. Best of all, it is easy to join in and play with your child!

How To Start Investing For Financial Independence, Part 1

Today, I am going to start a multi-part series about how to go from being a beginning investor to being "financially independent" in a steady and predictable way. At our website, we get tons of e-mails about how do I start, how do I start with little $ 's, etc., etc., etc. If you are asking this question, congratulations because you are ahead of most. All of us have been there at some point.

I must warn you …. What I am about to share here for free is what "gurus" across the nation charge thousands of dollars for in weekend seminars. The "secrets" disclosed are going to seem pretty simple because quite frankly, there are no secrets. The methods used here have been done for centuries and there is no real reason to complicate them. Let's apply these principles to see how fast someone might become financially independent without betting the farm.

Realize that everyone has wildly different starting points and different financial goals. For this series of articles, we assume that an individual has access to at least $ 15,000 liquid capital (or home equity) to start, is at least breaking even with their current income income expenses, and has decent credit to obtain financing. Note there yet? …. See the footnote below.

To start, what you need is to make your money grow while keeping your current income stream, and current expense level in place. I can not say this more plainly ….. To change your current financial path, you have to us your money and your time to grow additional income streams that increase wealth. There is many ways to do this but we are going to use investing in real estate as an example.

Now for beginners, here is the really bad news …… As an investor, you reap rewards by putting your money in HARMS WAY. You do everything in your power to minimize your risk but bottom line is that real investors make money by taking CONTROLLED risks. As investors get better, they learn how to make fantastic investment returns doing things that all their friends and relatives thing is crazy ….. However, they know exactly what risks are small in comparison to the potential Rewards.

One reason people really like real estate investing is leaseage; Ie, you can purchase an expensive property using 0-20% of your own money while financing the rest. So if you put 10% down for example, and then the property goes up by 20%, you have made a 200% return (ignoring expenses, taxes, etc. for simplicity). Of course this works in reverse … If the property drops by 20%, you have lost not only your original investment but have to come up with another 10% as well ….. Ouch!

For someone beginning, here is what I would suggest:
1) Look for an opportunity that will return at least 150% in 2 yrs or less;

2) Be mentally and financially prepared if the investment does not work out;

3) Have VERY good reasons why you do not think you will lose money …… You may not make as much as expected but you would rather not lose money at this stage.

4) Be patient. This single result should not either make or break you but it is crucial to a longer term plan.

In our Mastermind Group, we are bringing out a land project (see related article Land Investing that appears to meet these criteria (each investor has to decide for themselves.) So let's say the purchase price is $ 150,000, with 10% down and another $ 3,500 In closing costs. With good credit, then the financing obtained would make the land payments for 2 years while waiting for growth.

Now let's say after you did your analysis, looked at what had happened in the past, looked at why you thought more and more people would want this property, etc., you decide that you think this property will average 20% / Yr escalation over The next 2 years. MORE IMPORTANTLY, you decide that barring a major meltdown in the market, you think there is little chance that you can not at least break even after 2 years.

So if you end up being right about the growth, then you might net a tidy $ 43,000 (before taxes) or so after everything is considered. After long term capital gains at 15% let's say, then you just picked up about $ 36,000 of the "market's money". That is money that if you take a loss on the next investment will not be nearly as painful as if you lost your original money. When you combine this with your original investment amount, you now have around $ 55,000 of operating capital for step 2.

Realistically, you can not predict how much you will make from the investment. When I invest, I try to establish in my mind what is reasonable. Frequently, I have been surprised to the positive and made much more than expected. Sometimes I have made less. The key being put to yourself in a low risk situation where you have a strong reason to believe the market will go in your favor.

To accomplish this first step, let's look at what you really had to do:

1) Had to be willing to put $$ in harm's way;

2) Had to educate yourself enough to evaluate the risk and the opportunity;

3) Had to find the opportunity or be in a position to have the opportunity presented to them;

4) Had to act.

I would like to comment on the education side. As a former professor, I have seen very smart people spend 1,000's of hours and 10,000's of thousands of dollars educating themselves to "earn a living"; This is a great move in many cases. On the other side, I have seen very smart people who want investing to be a major source of income but will not spend any time or any money educating themselves.

To me, this is a recipe for disaster. By the time we finish this series, you will see that with a few simple steps, implemented over time, many people can easily produce more money than their regular job. Tomorrowmore, many people will put 100's of thousands of dollars at risk but know almost nothing about what they are doing. If you chose the path of making your investment dollars grow steadily with time, I hope this does not end up describing you.

** Footnote: If you are not yet at that level, here is what I suggest. First, read Michael Masterson's book called "Automatic Wealth". This is an excellent book on how to quickly change your financial position while staying employed. Next, I would read Van Tharp's new book called "Safe Paths To Financial Freedom". Van uses a very different thought process from many and so adds a great deal of rounding. Like anything else, you will not agree with everything written in these books but they provide some great thought processes. When you have some capital and are cash flow positive, they come back and revisit this article.

Intelligent Ways Of Investing

Let's say you've got your hands on a pretty large sum of money. The first thing you bought to do is handle any withstanding debt that you may have; Then, you should establish a sum of money that you need for immediate expenses and small extravaganzas. As for the amount you have left, it's best to invest it in order to start producing revenue for the years to come.

One of the best investment opportunities in the world is gold. This precious metal has a consistently high value and is considered to be an actual hedge against inflation and other similar processes, so it's rather safe to buy even in these times of financial uncertainty. You can purchase it in whatever shape suits you best, whether it's bullion, stocks or derivatives. However, keep in mind that the first two are longer long-term oriented, while the last one can bring you quick profits, but is pretty risky at the same time. Just make sure you have the appropriate storage means, so that you will not be exposed to the risk of being robbed.

Another good idea would be to acquire stocks or shares in a company. If the firm obtains profits, your investment will increase in value; Contradarily, if it goes bankrupt, your shares will also plummet to the ground. This is why it's very important that you first take some time and analyze the current situation of the company in which you're about to invest. Make sure you take a look at its policies towards investors, as well as any other matters that may be of interest to you. This way, there will not be any unpleasant surprises for you down the way.

If gold and stocks are not exactly your thing, there's always the alternative of buying real estate. This kind of purchase can be quite expensive, so it's not something to do on a whim. Still, some people say it worth the trouble, since it can bring you a much larger amount of income in the following years, especially if you decide to rent it or re-sell the property when prices have gone up.

Finally, be aware that most experts agree it's best to create a diversified portfolio of investments. Use part of your money for larger purchases, such as real estate, another part for stocks and shares, and the rest for commodities. This way, you will be "covered" no matter what happens to a particular market or to the economy itself.

The Significance of E-Books

E-Books are virtual books used to display information on any subject on the digital medium. This has made the task of Internet users easier to publish any kind of information. It is easy to create these electronic books on the Internet. This format is accessible and portable on multiple platforms. Computer users can have access to these digital books on any system with different configuration. You can open and view the digital books on the computer system easily. The original format does not change. If you create the digital book in an appropriate format, you can easily reduce the size of the file. Here, one can accommodate more than hundred pages in the electronic book. It is also easy to store and carry the digital book in portable devices like pen drive, Digital Video Disc or iPod.

Importance of E-Books:

The significance of electronic books is that they can be used for several purposes. You can use e-Books for promoting online business. An entrepreneur can write informative or promotional content for alluring the potential web visitors towards the company website. This enables you to promote the products and services online and build favorable company reputation. An e-Book can carry thousands of pages. One can make available any kind of information on the Internet through electronic books. An organization can create manuals, newsletters, reports or presentations. You can use digital books for educational purposes such as tutorials and e-notes. One can create digital books on science or medical field and on other such subjects. Universities can organize for imparting education to the distant learning students through Internet. They can provide digital books on various subjects to these students and make learning easier as well as fun. Even authors can publish their work online like poems, novels, fiction stories, rhymes and much more. Authors can also receive feedback from the readers for their work on the Internet. You can add animation or graphics along with other such content in the digital books.

E-Books can be published in a variety of formats such as PDF, HTML, Word document and much more. These formats make your task of publishing content easy and smooth. You can create e-books in different file formats and for this you can also use conversion software like word to PDF converter and make e-books creation easy and smooth.